Hiking culture in Kittitas County

Deacon Tuttle, Staff Reporter

When people yearn to connect with their surroundings a common response tends to be through hiking. Kittitas County offers several sights and exercise opportunities for those seeking such an outlet. People in Ellensburg shared their perspectives on hiking as a pastime and how to navigate the landscapes.

CWU student athlete Macy Wilke said hiking is a great way to get exercise and she even prefers it to working out in the gym. 

“Hiking is enjoyable. Getting fresh air and seeing the views. It’s all about the appreciation of nature,” Wilke said. 

Wilke referred to herself as a casual hiker who focuses on the views rather than the exertions of the trek. She said she highly recommends hiking the trails near Umtanum in Ellensburg. 

CWU alumnus Garen Edgar said hiking gives the opportunity to connect with others. If he could envision a perfect hike it would be a combination of incredible sights and pushing himself to his physical limits. 

As an avid trekker, Edgar’s greatest piece of advice regarding equipment is to invest in a solid pair of boots because, “… your feet will be thanking you.” 

If someone is easing into hiking, Edgar advised bringing friends to feel competent, to feel encouraged, to chat and to ultimately enjoy the summit together. According to Edgar, the best areas to travel are near Cle Elum and Roslyn. He said this is because of the lakes, fire lookouts and distance. 

Ellensburg resident David Stringfellow finds joy and refreshment in hiking. 

“It’s relaxing physically, mentally, spiritually, emotionally and you just remove distractions,” Stringfellow said. 

Being purposeful in your trips is the key to hiking in his eyes. He said compiling a group together and venturing out via trail to a lake while slowly taking in nature is the way to go. Additionally, Stringfellow stressed the importance of both digital and physical maps in case of emergencies.

As far as destinations are concerned, Stringfellow said the Cascades are his ideal locations for traversing nature. 

Being a southern California native, Stringfellow’s favorite hiking conditions are not compatible with the winter. However, the season continues to maintain a sense of stillness and beauty.